Fifty years ago, a tragedy occurred at the University of Texas. Charles Whitman, who was an engineering student at the school, unleashed a reign of terror when he decided to shoot over 49 students, and kill 16 from the Tower on UT’s campus. This is now an occurrence that happens all too often.

Over the past year, legislators in Texas have been fighting for students who have concealed carry permits to be able to carry them on campus.

Monday, on the 50th anniversary (unintended by the legislators) of the first college campus shooting, this fight is over, and the law has been placed into motion. This movement has been met with loud opposition from faculty, staff and many anti-gun counter movements.

I, personally, don’t know yet how I feel about this. Common sense is pulling me both ways. Half of me is like, “heck yeah, now students will be able to better protect themselves,” but the other half of me realizes the sad reality of firearms being in the hands of the wrong people.

My first year at Radford University, was pretty typical, except one day our campus went on lock down. We weren’t allowed to leave the perimeter of the dorm or building in which we were located. We were allowed to step outside, so I knew we didn’t have an active shooter, but we were all so confused and scared.

Come to find out, a boy who lived off campus had driven to Virginia Tech, shot and killed a police officer and then killed himself. During the time that our campus was locked down, we didn’t know what was going on.

I would’ve felt safer had I been able to arm myself, but you can’t carry on Radford’s campus. Even just walking home after spending time out and about with my friends was scary at times, and a concealed weapon would have put me at ease. Pepper spray doesn’t work on someone who is bound and determined to hurt you.

I can absolutely see why students want to carry on college campuses. I get it.

My question however, is how are we going to ensure that students who carry or have access to someone else’s weapon, do not hurt anyone else. I’m not saying that gun owners all have the potential to commit a mass shooting, because that is absurd. But we’ve seen mental illness in young people end in absolute tragedy.

With a complete lack of focus on mental health care, how can teachers or students feel comfortable?

Yes, it is your absolute right to carry a concealed weapon, and I will fight for you to be able to do that wherever, but college campuses aren’t really known for keeping up with the mental health status of students.

I’m completely torn. I’m happy for those who will carry and who will protect themselves and their peers from harm, but I’m also scared that this will produce another tragedy for the anti-gun people to throw into our faces.

What is your opinion? Write us and let us know.

Amanda Long is a freelance writer for The Gazette-Virginian.